The US is one of the world’s largest food producers. Thanks to the size of the country and the wide rage of climates we have, it’s possible to grow almost any crop here.
From beef, chicken and vegetables to the vast wheat fields of the Great Plains, we produce vast amounts of food. Yes, the US imports around 20% of the food we eat – but we’re also one of the world’s largest food exporters.
American agriculture produces more than enough to feed us all. So there’s little chance of the country facing a sudden food crisis, right?
Don’t be too sure about that. Crops can fail. Most modern crops are bred – or engineered – to be disease-resistant, but as we all learned in 2020 new diseases can appear out of nowhere without warning (or out of a Chinese lab, anyway).
The downside of modern crops is that we have whole farming industries dominated by just one or two varieties, so a new wheat disease, for example, could have devastating effects. Other crops are just as vulnerable.
Then there’s the risk of a bad actor deliberately sabotaging agricultural production. The biggest owner of farmland in the US is now Bill Gates, and he’s been saying some worrying things about overpopulation and experimenting with new kinds of food. Is he someone you’d trust with owning a significant part of our food production?
If Gates isn’t bad enough, investors linked to the Chinese Communist Party are also buying American farms. In at least one case they bought land near a vital Air Force base – but they could also use Chinese-controlled farms to launch a disease targeted at our food supply, perhaps to distract us from an invasion of Taiwan. (Source)
Crops don’t even need to fail for there to be a food crisis. What if they just get left to rot in the fields?
We’re an advanced, industrialized society, and most of the food we eat isn’t grown locally.
A transport crisis, another pandemic lockdown or even a big enough spike in fuel prices could bring down the complicated distribution networks we rely on and leave people starving while the birds pick over abandoned fields of food.
So while the US has plenty of food right now, that could change suddenly. If it does, you need to be prepared.
Looking for Land
Most preppers aim at being self-sufficient in food. Hunting and foraging are always options, but the best way to guarantee you’ll have enough to eat in a crisis is farming. It was agriculture that made human civilization possible and it’s still the best way to feed people.
The problem is that many of us don’t have enough land to grow enough food. As a rough guide, one acre will keep one person fed. If you have a family of four you’ll need four acres to be self-sufficient. If you don’t have that much land, look for space nearby you could farm in a crisis.
Once the initial chaos dies down there’s a good chance you’ll be able to repurpose some land and grow crops on it – but that needs preparation.
Firstly, if you take over part of a park or sports ground and dig it up for vegetables, can you protect whatever you grow there?
In a food crisis, hungry people will want that food – and they’ll take it, unless you can stop them. Do you have the manpower to keep a guard on it? Can you fence it off, or conceal it?
Securing Suitable Land
Land that adjoins your own property is the easiest to use. If your neighbors leave during the crisis, their yards become available.
The key thing is to identify suitable land before a crisis, and make sure you have the resources you need to secure and use it. If you can, check the soil too.
If you’re planning on using a vacant lot behind your yard, you can assume the soil will be pretty much the same as it is on your property, but if you’re planning to farm further afield it’s worth doing some research.
Look at soil quality, drainage and of course access. You can learn here an easy way to test soil the way pioneers did. If you plant an acre of potatoes in a clearing in the woods, will you be able to get a truck in there to take the crop home?
Whether you already have enough land or you’ve identified some you can farm in an emergency, you’ll need seeds to plant and possibly fertilizer to improve the soil. You can’t rely on finding those after food shortages begin, because a lot of people will suddenly be interested in growing their own.
Stockpiling Seeds and Supplies
Stockpiling seeds and other agricultural supplies is something you need to focus on now.
When choosing seeds, try to get several different varieties for each crop.
That reduces the risk of a disease or pest wiping everything out.
Make sure seeds are stored properly, too. Store them somewhere cool, dark and dry, ideally in an airtight container. That will keep them in good condition until you need them.
While stockpiling vegetables seeds seems like the obvious step when preparing for a food crisis, I strongly recommend stockpiling some medicinal seeds as well. You can get them for cheap and grow your own supply of natural remedies.
As well as land you can farm, look for other food sources you can exploit in a crisis. If you live near the coast, consider a small boat you can fish from – and if you’re near a river make up longlines, so instead of sitting by the bank dangling a hook in the water you can leave a hundred hooks out overnight and check them in the morning.
Hunting and foraging can still be valuable, but with food scarce a lot of other people will be trying them too, so you could struggle to survive on them alone. Keep them in mind, but look for options that the hungry masses won’t swamp before you can get there.
Bridging The Gap
Even if you’re prepared to become self-sufficient in food, you’ll still need enough reserves to get you through until your crops are ready.
If you’re self-sufficient already you’re probably covered; you’ll have last year’s harvest stored away and ready to feed you all year.
Otherwise, check your stockpile; is it really enough to last until you have a crop grown and ready to harvest?
Remember that any real food crisis will probably be preceded by shortages and rising prices, so it won’t be easy to expand your reserves at that point. You need to start thinking about that now.
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